During the conflicts of the 20th Century former pupils of the George Watson's Boys' College answered their country's call in their hundreds and many made the ultimate sacrifice.
In World War I 605 died, 19.5% of those who served in the armed forces.
In World War II 202 died, 11.2% of those who served in the armed forces.
In addition, one former pupil of George Watson's Ladies' College was killed in World War I, another was killed during World War II and a pupil died in the Korean War. This Roll of Honour provides some of the facts and the faces behind the stark statistics. It also includes the six members of staff who died in World War I and another, who had taught at George Watson's Ladies' College, who died in World War II.
These biographies are not complete and there are also a number of photographs missing, together with a few records that have not yet been traced. If you have any further information we would welcome it, please contact us.
Most of the information you will find here has been taken from A Memorial Record of Watsonians who served in the Great War (1920) and The Watsonian War Record 1939-1945 (1951). These two volumes were published to record and honour Watsonians who had served and who had died.
You can view the War Records by selecting one of the following links. Alternatively, you can search the Records using the form below, completing as much information as possible.
Elder son of Capt. and Mrs. W. S. Aitken, 32 Craiglockhart Drive South, Edinburgh. Was born 20th June 1923. Leaving School in 1940 he immediately joined the RAF, gained his wings September 1941 and took part in many raids over enemy territory. Later he was attached to a Ferry Squadron and lost his life in July 1942.
Only son of the late Lieutenant James Kidd Alexander, Royal Scots, who fell at Passchendaele in 1917, and Mrs. Catherine Alexander, 14 Findhorn Place, Edinburgh, came to Watson's in 1918 and left in 1927 to enter the service of The Edinburgh Savings Bank, and later was on the Staff of The Union Bank of Scotland Ltd. and served in Glasgow and Kirkcaldy. He joined his father's regiment, The Royal Scots, in 1940 and in 1943 proceeded to India and later to Burma. He saw much action early in 1944 and on 18th April in that year he fell in the Battle of Kohima, where he is buried.
Paymaster Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Allsebrook, Whapple Way, Ditchling, Sussex, left Watson's in 1929 to enter Edinburgh Academy. On the outbreak of war he intended serving with the Royal Air Force, but slight colour-blindness prevented his acceptance for Cranwell. He then joined the R.N.V.R., and was Paymaster Sub-Lieutenant on H.M.S. Barham when she went down on 25th November 1941. He was 22 years of age.
LLANRHOS (OR EGLWYS-RHOS) (SS. ELERI AND MARY) CHURCHYARD
Harold R. Baker, Pilot Officer, Royal Air Force, was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. E. S. Baker, formerly of 20 Morningside Park, Edinburgh, and of Rye Cottage, Warren Road, Deganwy, North Wales. Born on 3rd November 1918, he left Watson's in 1936 and entered the Customs and Excise in 1938. He was called up to the militia at the beginning of the war, and after a short time was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in The Border Regiment. Thereafter seconded to the R.A.F., he received his wings and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in August 1941. He lost his life early in November 1941.
Denys J. N. Barnes, Sub-Lieutenant, Fleet Air Arm, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Barnes, Thames Ditton, Surrey. Born in London in 1919, he attended Watson's from 1928 to 1937. For two years he studied at London University, and on the outbreak of war volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm. He eventually went out to the Middle East as a torpedo-bomber. In August 1942 he failed to return from leading his formation in a flight against the enemy.
Allan R. Barrie, Private, Federated Malay States Volunteer Force, younger son of Mr. and Mrs. John O. Barrie, 6 Patie's Road, Edinburgh, was born on 16th April 1914. Entering Watson's in 1920 he left in 1931 to study at Edinburgh University, where he graduated B.Sc. in Forestry and Agriculture in 1937. Joining the Colonial Forestry Service in 1938, he proceeded to Malaya to take up an appointment as District Forest Officer at Rawang. Just before the fall of Singapore he joined a force consisting entirely of volunteers, called "Dalforce", taking information to British troops cut off by the enemy. In 1942 he was a prisoner of war in Singapore and in April 1943 was transferred to Bang Yong, Siam; thence he was marched 180 miles to do road work. Contracting cholera, he died at Sonkrai, Siam, on 27th May 1943
Alexander G. Bathgate, Aircraftman, Royal Air Force, was the youngest son of Mr, and Mrs. R. G. M. Bathgate, 10 Dovemount Place, Hawick. Born on 3rd March 1918, Sandy came to Watson's in 1927 and left in 1934 to enter the R.A.F. He was killed in action during a bombing raid on 6th September 1939 at the age of twenty-one, being the first Watsonian to lose his life in the war. A comrade-in-arms wrote of him: "It is fitting to know that his life belonged to the Air. To fly in the morning dew or to return through an evening storm was his very life-blood, and to die in that unconquerable realm was, I am sure, his wish."
Irene Bathgate was the daughter of Dr William Bathgate and Lena Bathgate (nee Duncan). Her father was a doctor at the Edinburgh Medical Mission Hospital at Nazareth in Palestine.Born on 29 June 1920, Irene went to school, first in Lebanon before joining George Watson’s Ladies’ College in 1932. She was a gifted pianist and enjoyed writing poetry. After leaving school in 193, she began a degree course at the University of Edinburgh. However, in April 1941, Irene was about to make the hazardous journey back to Palestine to join her father. . She spent the night at a friend’s house. A bomb hit the house, a vicarage that night and Irene died as a result of her injuries on 11 April 1941, aged 20.
George T. W. Beattie, Second Lieutenant, Royal Engineers, son of the late Mr.' George W. Beattie, Building Contractor, London, and Mrs. M. H. Beattie, 1 St. Vincent Street, Edinburgh, was born on 17th January 1915 and was a pupil at Watson's from 1928 to 1931. Prior to enlisting in the Royal Engineers he was Junior Assistant in the City Engineer's Department, Edinburgh. He was killed on 28th March 1942 at Mersa Matruh, Egypt, when clearing a minefield.
Thomas M. Beveridge, Captain, Southern Rhodesian Medical Corps, son of the Rev. T. L. Beveridge and Mrs. Beveridge, 116 Grange Loan, Edinburgh, attended Watson's from 1915 to 1924. Graduating M.B., Ch.B. at Edinburgh University in 1929, he spent five years at Chitambo, N. Rhodesia, with the Livingstonia Mission of the Church of Scotland, having gained the D.P.H. Diploma at Glasgow University in 1936. In 1937 he became Assistant Health Officer to the Salisbury (S. Rhodesia) Municipality. Joining up at the outbreak of war, he died in Salisbury on 12th February 1944